Pilates Exercises

Pilates with Cervical Disc Herniations

Dear Lynda, I have been a pilates instructor for 4 years. I have a client: 34 yr old Female 2 cervical disc hernias at age 18 ex gymnast works in an office swims once a week flexible weak muscles (especially in arms)

She wants her body back in shape.

She has some tingling in her hands and sometimes gets dizzy.

She wants to do group lessons because of the hours and cost.

I started her out on the Trap table doing Pre Pilates exercises: Breathing exercises Neutral spine w/disassociation exercises Shoulder girdle stabilization

Basic Reformer routine: Foot Work Frog Leg Circles Short Box Series: Round Back Twist Side bends Knee Stretch Stomach Massage Seated Long box Arms Basic Rowing Back

My questions are:

What exercises should I NOT DO with her(obviously no full short spine / bottom lift / shoulder bridge ect. that might put pressure on her neck)?

Are there any specific exercises that would help?

Would neck mobilization help or could it possibly worsen the situation?

Thanks, Michelle

Dear Michelle,

First, have you seen her since the first session? How did she feel? That will give you some basis on which to proceed. Any pain or numbness lasting longer than one day is a problem.

Second, NO NECK MOBILIZATION! Think about it--she's hypermobile already with weak enough intervertebral muscles to cause weakness in the cervical spine. Plus you mention that she is weak and flexible, which is not good.

Third, looking at the first session almost everything you give her is in forward spinal flexion. She needs some work in extension and side lying and maybe some supine arm work. Bridging and bottom lift are not necessarily bad if she doesn't go all the way up to her neck.

I would avoid weight bearing on arms right now (no knee stretches) and too much flexion (stomach massage and back rowing is too much). And you are right about avoiding weight bearing on neck in things like short spine, long spine, etc.

So for extension--basic prone straight leg lifts, single leg kick with head down, swimming, beginning swan, flight (extension with arms at sides). Side lying--side kicks, magic circle work.

On the reformer you could do supine arm presses and circles with legs in tabletop position, very light prone pull straps, seated chest expansion (light springs).

She is bound to be tight in the chest/front of shoulders her mid back/lower ribcage, and in her hip flexors. So you need to help her stretch these while strengthening the complementary muscles (triceps, back of shoulder blades, obliques and abs, pelvic floor, gluteals, leg abductors, inner thighs, hamstrings.

Has she been cleared by her doctor to exercise?

Feel free to ask more questions!



Pilates Counteracts Sitting

No matter how ergonomic and expensive your office furniture may be, sitting in any chair all day long will have a negative effect on your body. Your hip flexors and hamstrings get tighter, your spine compresses with gravity, your head strains forward and your shoulders round forward towards your desk or computer.

Pilates exercises help counter this by moving and lengthening your spine, including neck, opening your chest and strengthening your shoulders, lengthening your hip flexors and strengthening your hip extensors.

Rehab Pilates

Yesterday I taught a Rehab Pilates session to a Japanese journalist who told me that Rehab exercise and Pilates were not linked in Japanese culture. You go to a Pilates teacher for exercise, and a physician for any kind of Rehab exercises.

Now this is appropriate in acute injury cases, but when you are dealing with imbalances from an injury 20 years ago that still cause problems the physician usually shrugs her shoulders. This is where a Rehab-focused Pilates session can come in handy.

In a 60-90 minute session I can assess the imbalances and offer an exercise program to help strengthen what is weak and stretch what is tight, leading to better muscle balance and function. Email me for more information.

How NOT To Train Your Abdominals

Henry Gray (1825–1861).  Anatomy of the Human ...Image via Wikipedia

I received a question today that shows very clearly the inefficiency of most "traditional" abdominal training methods.

I am working out very hard on my abs sections and want answers to some questions.

* First and the foremost thing is that I've read in some book that you grow your love handles and transform them into permanent muscles if you keep working on them with weighted side dumbbell bends. I think, Ive done the same mistake, so what is the effective way to get rid of them without reducing the over-all muscle mass from the body.

* The second thing which confuses me most of the time is when I am doing my ab workout I feed some pain in my mid-section but I cant figure out whether it is in ab-section or back. So, I just stop my self from exercising to prevent back ache problems.

*Kindly tell me, how effective are these ab-machines available in the market are? Do they work or they don't work at all and is simply waste of money?

*When I started ab-workout as a beginner I used to get lot of sore in my ab section through out the day. It really felt as if something is developing. But now, I perform ab workout daily but not intensively. Like total of 50-60 sit ups with breaks in between and 30-40 leg raisers. What is more beneficial? To work on abs daily with less intensity or work on it twice a week with more intensity?

* My height = 5'11", Weight =72 kg, chest=39", waist=32"
I need to loose only some pounds from my mid section to make abs visible. How intensively I should do aerobic exercises to achieve my goal? Do I really need to do aerobics to loose belly fat as I am already on strength training.

I really hope best answers from your side.
Ali A

Answer: Dear Ali,

Regarding losing pounds from your midsection, the way to do that is by eating correctly. There is a great free report about this.

Tom Venuto really has the best eating program to show off your abs.

You do need to add some cardio to your workout, not to flatten your belly necessarily but to strengthen your heart and increase general fitness.

Ab machines are a waste of time.

The abdominal muscles wrap around your body from back to front, so feeling some ab work all the way around is appropriate.

I think Pilates is best for abs as the isolated exercises you have been doing (which aren't working) are not efficient for ab training. Here are some great Pilates home workouts.



Great Free Pilates Workout Videos

The holidays, with all their diet-busting treats, are here, but economic uncertainty is causing cutbacks on gym memberships, personal trainers and other fitness expenses. Pilates experts Katherine and Kimberly Corp are introducing UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com, their new Web site that helps people tighten their belts in more ways than one via free, full-length exercise videos. The site presents a variety of Pilates workouts, from traditional mat routines to workouts with stability balls, small balls, exercise bands and BOSUs(R). Users who want to learn Pilates in depth can also view detailed videos about specific techniques.

The instructors featured on the online workouts are the owners of Pilates on Fifth in Manhattan, twin sisters Katherine and Kimberly Corp. "We know of only one other site on the Internet that offers anything like this," said Kimberly.

The site's videos accommodate fitness levels from beginners to seasoned enthusiasts. More than 15 free workouts are currently available and new workouts will be added each month. All the videos are downloadable to computers, MP3 players and iPods. Users can even stream the videos straight to their TV sets.

"During our time as Radio City Rockettes, we endured a demanding performance schedule and used Pilates to stay injury-free," explained Katherine. "We knew that many people could benefit from this exercise system, which is why we opened our studio eight years ago. Now we're Manhattan's largest Pilates studio, but we don't want to restrict instruction to individuals with direct access to us. That's why we launched this site; with it, anyone can do Pilates anywhere."

One of the people already using the site is a personal trainer located in Istanbul, Turkey. "I use UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com to provide workouts for my clients when their busy schedules prevent them from taking a lesson with me," she stated in a testimonial.

The basic subscription plan allows for unlimited free viewing of all mat-based Pilates workouts. Those who wish to access more routines can purchase the fee-based subscription packages called the Deluxe, Premier and Ultimate plans for three, five and unlimited free monthly downloads, respectively. They will also soon offer a "Create-A-Workout" feature so that users can create their own video with the exercises they either like the most or need the most. The site will also add more traditional floor/dance aerobics as well as CARDIOLATES®, their own alignment-focused rebounding program.

The Corp sisters are certified through the Pilates Academy International and are ACE and NASM certified personal trainers. In addition to receiving NYC Small Business Awards, they have been featured in numerous publications and have appeared as fitness/body image experts on "Martha," "Geraldo at Large" and many local TV programs. Citysearch named their staff members "Best Personal Trainers" for two years in a row.

Pilates with Ring & Foam Roller Mp3

About.com's Pilates expert Marguerite Ogle recently reviewed my Pilates on Ring and Foam Roller MP3 and really enjoyed it! In her review, Pilates Ring and Foam Roller Workouts on MP3: Pilates MP3 Downloads from Lynda Lippin Marguerite says,

The Pilates ring workout opens with a great butt and thigh toning sequence. I remember thinking: Oh good, bathing suit weather is right around the corner (it's December as I write this). Not to be outdone, the arms get a good workout too.

And continues,

The foam roller workout is a nice combination of fundamental moves, inventive stretches, and massages with the roller. If you've ever wondered what to do with a foam roller, you will get good ideas here.

A solid 30 minute Pilates workout for only $7.77 - a bargain!

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Great Pilates Ring and Roller Audio Workout

My friend and fellow Pilates teacher Anne Samoilov took the time out of her busy life to try a workout with my Pilates with Ring & Roller mp3 Workout and she just posted her review on her blog,

Rainy Day Pilates with Lynda Lippin

Once again the audio received a rave review, with Anne commenting on the clarity of my voice and cuing, the value for the price, and the efficacy of the 30 minute workout. I am thrilled!